EAST GAMBIER 53 d MILLICENT 50
EAST Gambier has achieved a rare feat in round 12 of Western Border netball – defeating Millicent.
The Bulldogs toughed out a tight contest where they continued to build a small buffer only to see the Saints work their way back, time and time again, before holding on for a three-goal victory.
Missing Donna Denton, Lucy Denton and Demi Verbena, the Saints were certainly depleted.
But the Bulldogs can still take confidence from the victory, given they faced a fairly typical defensive line from the reigning premiers.
The Saints started with the tall timber of Tabatha Sanderson in shooter with Paige Nitschke running goal attack.
Kayleigh Taylor made her A Grade debut on the defensive wing, with Hannah Nitschke moving to the offensive end to play wing attack.
Millicent was always going to take a while to adjust to the new combinations and East pounced, setting up a four-goal quarter-time buffer.
Starting with Sara Smith in goals and Brittany Ross on the attacking wing, East basically used the Saints’ usual weapon of choice – speed of ball – against Millicent’s defensive line.
With Tenille Gray on fire and Smith converting her share of opportunities, the defensive efforts of the Bulldogs, especially wing defender Tyne Bosko, were being rewarded.
The second and third quarters saw the match develop into a genuine goal-for-goal contest, with neither side able to establish a comfortable lead.
Again it was the defensive pressure through the mid court which saw East create turnover ball, while for the Saints there was still the challenge of finding good connection in the new-look attack line.
At half time, Millicent swung the changes to try and arrest what had become a seven-goal deficit.
Hannah Nitschke went to goal defence, Taylor to wing attack and Alice Pratt came onto the defensive wing, but the match continued as an arm wrestle.
The Bulldogs still applied plenty of defensive pressure, while Gray continued to dominate the shooting circle.
Despite the best efforts of Hayley Dunn, Hannah Nitschke and Pratt, East was still able to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
In the final quarter both sides were able to take the lead, but in the end East regained its composure after a shaky start to the term to finish the final few minutes strong and take the three-goal win.
Bosko was outstanding through the mid court, creating plenty of physical pressure and, in turn, turnovers, as well as driving hard as an attacking option.
Gray was also outstanding, as was Smith, with that combination in goals giving East another option going forward.
Hannah Nitschke was a consistent performer for the Saints, while Pratt picked up at least four turnovers in the final quarter to keep the Saints in the hunt and Taylor showed she is up to the challenge of A Grade netball with a strong debut.
The rare win over the reining champs was also a special way for defender Morgan Amy to celebrate her 250th game as a Bulldog.
NORTH GAMBIER 53 d SOUTH GAMBIER 45
NORTH Gambier will thank its lucky stars the shooting combination of Alisha Bryan and Sarah Nulty were on song in the opening half against a determined South Gambier.
The pair converted 31 from 34 attempts, with Nulty netting 18 straight, to reward their defenders for the intense pressure in the opening half to see the Tigers with a comfortable nine-goal lead.
The job of Bryan and Nulty was made easier by the classy feeding from Mel Renko and Ash Kalantarian and the Tigers looked in control.
But the Demons refused to lie down and while the final margin was nine goals, it was as close as four in the final quarter before errors again plagued the inexperienced line-up.
Alyssa Duncan was the star in the third, converting nine straight to ensure her team was rewarded for possession.
But South just could not maintain touch with the Tigers, who made the Demons earn every possession courtesy of the close checking from Maddie Whaites, Noni McConnell, Ellen Brown and Renko.
That being said, Audine Bryant and Tara Bryant worked overtime on the circle’s edge to move the ball to find Duncan and Imogen Walker in good shooting position.
At the other end the Demons kept tweaking the combination, using Tori McIntyre, Alyce Pearce-Raisin, Riley Buckingham and Zoe Duncan to try and nullify the Tigers offence.
It was actually the third quarter where McIntyre stepped up and got her hands on some critical ball.
Pearce-Raisin was the star at the defensive end and her ability to put doubt in the minds of the feeders saw her get her hands on plenty of turnover ball.
However, in the end the ball kept coming back, with Whaites picking up many of the turnovers with her willingness to take a risk and hunt outside the circle for the intercept.
Renko was also a key, with her defensive pressure as well as her strong driving and her battle with Audine Bryant in the second half was the highlight of the match.
Nulty again proved she is comfortable in the top grade and her game tally of 30 from 34 is testament to her composure under pressure, as her pace wreaked havoc for the Demons defenders.
For South it was the two young guns – Alyssa Duncan and Tara Bryant – who were the best, Duncan with her strength on the hold and accurate finishing and Bryant with her strong driving, creative feeding and some good defensive work.
WEST GAMBIER 53 d CASTERTON SANDFORD 37
WEST Gambier continues to build nicely to the 2019 finals, with a strong second half to outclass the tenacious Casterton Sandford.
The Cats again showed their best can match it with any team and they trailed by only three goals at half time.
Christine Harris shot the lights out from anywhere in the goal circle for the Cats, while at the other end, the defensive combination of Marlee Gartlan and Madalene Cleary ensured the Roos did not have things all their own way.
The third quarter saw the game turn, as West started to find its rhythm.
Young wing attack Jordan Freeman stood up to the physical pressure of A Grade to use her pace and smarts to great effect and showed she will be the perfect replacement for the pregnant Carlee Ransom.
Gabby Sullivan tested the young mid courter with her close checking and willingness to contest every ball, but Freeman was unfazed.
In combination with the hard-driving Emily Hunter, she found good position on the circle’s edge to feed Tahlia Earl and Lisa McGregor with precision.
By three quarter time the Roos led by 12, with the defensive line of Amy Cram and Maddy Teakle also starting to find their mojo to deny the Cats time and space.
Hunter was also a key, continually turning the ball over in the midcourt with her ability to close down what seemed safe options.
West continued to build in the final quarter to secure the 16-goal victory with the double chance all but sewed up.
Harris’s accurate finishing was a feature of the game for the Cats, while Cleary continued to impress in the defensive circle.
Hunter was clearly best on court, while Freeman impressed and has become a vital cog in the West attack line.
Cram and Teakle, who picked up a number of key turnovers in the final quarter, are as tough as ever a defensive combination to crack.